Prevention, not restriction will reduce abortion in Iowa

People walk through the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)
People walk through the State Capitol Building in Des Moines on Tuesday, January 14, 2014. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

Sweeping abortion restrictions approved by the Legislature this week are not in the best interest of women, will not significantly reduce abortion, and should not be signed into law.

Studies confirm that access to contraception — not red tape, roadblocks and restrictions — is the most effective way to reduce abortions. But instead of doubling down on the prevention efforts that already have dramatically reduced the number of abortions being performed in Iowa, lawmakers have chosen to impose rules that might feel good to abortion opponents, but won’t achieve their goal.

Making abortion illegal does not stop it, but it does make the procedure more dangerous. About 13 percent of maternal deaths worldwide are attributed to unsafe abortion, according to the World Health Organization.

State lawmakers bent on creating new policies surrounding abortion should be required to base such policies on scientific evidence. None was considered in Iowa.

There is no evidence that waiting periods protect the health of women, or that they lower abortion rates.

Listening once again to the heartbeat of a fetus that will not survive, or viewing fetal anomalies one more time on an ultrasound screen doesn’t change a terminal diagnosis. Instead, such measures add state-imposed insult to injury as well as provide more time for additional medical complications to arise.

That these levels of restrictions were approved by lawmakers without even rudimentary consultation with physicians should be reason enough for Gov. Terry Branstad to block this bill.

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Women in the Hawkeye State will now need to travel, likely miss work and wait three days before being able to access medical care guaranteed by the high court. Imagine the outrage if those seeking weapons permits had to do the same.

Iowa women experiencing pregnancies complicated by fetal anomalies incompatible with life will be forced by the government to carry those pregnancies to term, or die trying. Imagine the outrage if “good Samaritan” laws saying that every Iowan had to put his or her life or health on the line were mandated by the Legislature.

Without a doubt the prevention of unplanned pregnancies and lowering of abortion rates are noble goals. Neither is accomplished by this bill, which treats women like children incapable of making serious decisions about pregnancies and interferes with their long-standing right to legal medical care.

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